Allowing children a voice and choice in matters that affect them fosters responsibility. There will be some times when a parent needs to step in, having more experience or knowledge about a topic. You wouldn’t let your child learn about cars by running out in the road and being hit by one. However, children are quite capable of making many choices and often have great insight. A choice should be given regarding matters which are within the child’s realm of responsibility. A voice should be given in matters which are within the parent’s realm of responsibility. When children have a say in matters, they have control. Children learn about responsibility by being involved in the decision making process.
This seems like such a simple distinction to me, but I have heard so many people criticize giving children a choice as “letting kids rule the house,” etc. Not true!
And how are we supposed to help children learn how to make decisions for themselves later – when it really matters and an adult is not there to guide them – unless we give them lots of practice beforehand?!
I’m always surprised to hear that parents, especially ones who are supposedly practicing gentle discipline, believe there are only two methods of dealing with conflicts with their children. They seem to think that either the parent needs to win (authoritarian parenting) or that the child wins (permissive parenting). In these win-lose methods of conflict resolution, no one really wins in the relationship – they result in resentment and more conflict. The third method of conflict resolution is the no-lose solution. Involved parties work together to come up with a solution that works for everyone. Spouses, friends, coworkers, and family members often work together in such a manner. I don’t understand why so many people are unwilling to work with their children in a respectful manner.